The fraud trial for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort enters its eighth day as prosecutors say they plan to rest their case by Friday. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has been pushing prosecutors to make their case quickly. Manafort's defense team will have a chance to offer witnesses and other evidence after the government finishes its argument.
Reporting by Paula Reid, Clare Hymes, Kristine Guillaume, Bryce Klehm and Parita Desai.
Follow along for live updates of the trial:
AirBnB: Manafort’s loft listed between 2015-2016
Cross examining James, defense lawyer Jay Nanavati sought to show that the Howard Street property could still have been classified as a second residence even while it was being rented out, to some extent. Nanavati emphasized that Manafort at one point told Citizens Bank in an email that a mortgage for another property, on Union Street in Brooklyn, had been approved, but it did not mean that that it had closed. He tried to focus on Gates' phone call to James later that day.
Nanavati characterized the series of events as going "off the rails" because after the phone call, Gates had submitted old insurance policies to show that there was no mortgage on Manafort's Union Street brownstone. In questioning the witness again, the prosecution apointed out that Gates emailed James abot not proceeding with the Union Street mortgage.
Manafort, who was cc'd on those emails, did not respond to correct any of the statements in the correspondence. The government also again referenced Manafort's tax returns, which state, in contrast to the loan application, that the Howard Street property had been rented 365 days in 2015 and 2016.
The government then called Darin Evenson, the director of customer experience at AirBnB. He confirmed that Manafort's property was listed to rent on the platform between 2015-2016, despite the assertion in the loan process that it was being used as a residence. The unit was advertised as an "Amazing Full Floor Loft in SoHo."
It was Manafort's son-in-law, Jeff Yohai, who was listed as the host in AirBnB, charging $1,791 for a four-night stay, and $11,640 for a 21-night stay. There were no restrictions on the number of nights a guest could stay. The property was removed from the platform twice. One of the periods the Union Street was taken off the site was between Feb. 26 to Mar. 27, 2016, which approximately coincided with when Manafort was applying for a mortgage and was expecting appraisers to visit the unit.
Manafort told Yohai in an email, "[R]emember, [the appraiser] believes that you and Jessica are living there." The mortgages they applied for listed the property as a second home not a rental. Renting it out on AirBnB would be contradictory to information submitted in the loan application and in violation of that.
Manafort misrepresented property on loan application
Paul Manafort's trial continued Thursday with testimony from government witness Melinda James, formerly Melinda Francis, a Citizens Bank mortgage loan assistant who was involved in processing Manafort's mortgage applications.
Manafort signed off on a loan application on his Howard Street property that claimed the property was a secondary residence, even though -- as James found when she checked the site Streeteasy -- it was used as a rental property (and generating over $100,000 in income, according to the prosecution).
In correspondence that cc'd Manafort, Rick Gates also told the bank that a loan had been forgiven and would be included as income (a CPA testified earlier that she had major misgivings about this), and that Manafort had decided not to move forward with a mortgage on another property that bank employees had questioned. The loan was approved and signed in person by Manafort.
Prosecutors aim to wrap trial by Friday
Prosecutors in Manafort's fraud trial say they have eight witnesses left and expect to rest their case Friday. Greg Andres, an attorney with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, says the prosecution is running ahead of schedule and that none of the remaining witnesses should take more than an hour for questioning.
So far, 18 witnesses have testified in the former Trump campaign chairman's trial, including his longtime business partner Rick Gates.
Judge Ellis has been pushing prosecutors to hurry through their case. Manafort's defense team will have a chance to offer witnesses and other evidence after the government finishes.
Wednesday trial highlights: Manafort spent $15.5M from offshore accounts for personal expenses
On Wednesday, defense attorneys pressed Rick Gates, Manafort's former business associate, on details of his personal life before a packed courtroom.
Jurors also heard from FBI forensic accountant Morgan Magionos, the 17th witness to testify. Magionos, who is a CPA and a certified fraud examiner, said she had been assigned to the Manafort investigation to conduct a financial analysis.
She identified Manafort as the person in control of the 31 foreign bank accounts. Magionos also detailed personal payments made by Manafort to companies and services through his many offshore accounts. The payments were often in the millions. The grand total of Manafort's payments from his offshore accounts to vendors and for properties came out to $15.5 million over the course of 2010-2014, according to Magionos.